My Vote

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It started 16 months ago with a bang–one hell of a wonderful euphoric bang that left me giddy for months. Now it feels like it’s ending with a whimper.

My visit to a polling station today felt like the ultimate anti-climactic let-down ending. Everything was downbeat. I visited my usual converted schoolroom in Giza for the third time in 7 months. It was nearly 8 pm, and the polls would be open for another two hours. The voting hours were abruptly extended today until 10 pm, but tellingly the extension wasn’t to accommodate the long lines of voters; it was to encourage more people to come out amid apparently plummeting turnout numbers. Everything was quiet and businesslike. There seemed to be maybe 10 other voters split between multiple classrooms. It was all over in about 3 minutes.

In the parliamentary elections last December and the first round presidential vote last month, I felt overwhelmed by choices–almost to the point of paralysis. Now I felt constrained and restricted. The two faces on the ballot seemed to mock me. I hated these choices, and I wasn’t alone.

“I feel like I’m not actually here to vote FOR something. I’m voting against something horrible. I think a lot of people are doing the same thing today,” said Ahmed Adel, a 32-year old carpenter walking out of the station with me. He wouldn’t say just who he voted for (or against). Maybe it didn’t matter.

I felt the same way. I voted today for a post-revolutionary Egyptian president. But I didn’t actually vote FOR anyone.

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